Artborne Magazine December 2016 - Page 53

and limbs arranged to give off both a sense of disembodiment and tangibility, along with birds, wall drawings, protruding wires, and emaciated figures, but the explication of his work sounds messier than it looks. Beyond the Jungian undertones of the shadowed self, the compositional components of Ballen’s work are striking in their clarity. Some may call it organized madness, a reflection of the transferable nature of inner chaos. One of the most impressive things about Ballen’s photographs is that each one captures a glimmer, a millisecond of reality, in the most ironically well-assembled manner. Each piece is rich in its fullness and so that viewers can diagram his work from over the years, which is why the organization of the exhibition functions well for both those familiar with Ballen and those exposed to his photographs for the first time. If you are the latter party, you may wonder about the ethics behind the work. Is he exploitative of people who may be physically and/or mentally disabled? Is it acceptable to capitalize on this otherness, this ambiguity, derangement and isolation shaped into oddly slapstick and absurdist forms? Ballen emphasizes that he isn’t ridiculing or manipulating the people he’s photographing, but below: Unwind (Asylum of the Birds series) that doesn’t stop us from considering the relationship between people and props within his work, or the subject/object dichotom